Heavy snow causes havoc in north
Widespread heavy snow across the northern part of the mainland caused havoc in several provincial capitals, prompting provincial officials to take steps against any potential social unrest.
The cities affected included Shijiazhuang in Hebei and Taiyuan in Shanxi. In Shijiazhuang, 48cm of snow - the most in 54 years - paralysed traffic, forcing people to walk to work in the morning, China National Radio reported.
Officials rushed to close primary schools for a day, fearing falling tree branches and slippery roads would cause injuries. Several areas reported power failures.
The Hebei Meteorological Bureau issued a red alarm, the highest level, advising people to avoid travelling and to keep themselves warm. All Hebei highways except the Beijing-Shenyang and the Tianjin -Tangshan expressways were closed and hundreds of thousands of vehicles were halted at toll stations throughout the day.
In Shanxi, more than 10,000 vehicles were stranded on the roads by the afternoon, and traffic police mobilised officers to help ease traffic jams involving an estimated 30,000 people. Most highways in Shanxi were closed, and traffic authorities arranged for people to send clothing and food to stranded motorists.
Hebei and Shanxi also closed airports yesterday, leaving railways as the only reliable mode of transport.
Snowfall in Beijing yesterday was not as heavy and traffic ran smoothly. The airport reported delays because of slippery runways, but flights were taking off and landing. The snow that fell on Beijing and the surrounding area on Tuesday was also partly induced, according to China Daily.
The China Meteorological Observatory said heavy snow was expected to continue until today. It said heavy snowfalls were forecast in central Shaanxi , central and southern Shanxi, central and southern Hebei, northern and western Henan, northwest Hubei and northwest Shandong. Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei and Henan were expected to get the worst of it.
The observatory warned governments in these regions to prepare to handle traffic problems.
It encouraged people to cut short unnecessary outdoor activities and urged farmers to protect their cattle and vegetables.
Last year's lack of snowfall brought northern areas one of the worst droughts in recent years.
Billions of yuan were invested in the spring to water winter crops, to ensure a decent summer harvest.
Shijiazhuang in Hebei has been hit by the worst snowfall for 54 years
The amount that weather officials said had fallen up to yesterday: 48cm